[Note: This is a lengthy post as it also serves as a journal for us and our family.]
After receiving a non-renewal of lease letter on January 18, 2022, we devoted time to develop a plan for relocating back to Colorado. [See prior post dated January 28, 2022]
We spent the better part of February madly “rightsizing” and selling, donating, or giving to family various household treasures. Being realistic, we anticipated a smaller home in our future. Despite the frenzy, we stuck to a previously planned camping trip to Whidbey Island, Washington. It served as a calming segue to the future pace we anticipated.
Until the third week of March, we kept packing, donating, selling, and organizing for an upcoming move.
On March 23, we embarked on an abode-hunting trip that would last nearly five weeks. Thankfully, we are “old hats” at living in a trailer and traveling. Plus, it was a good way to avoid Airbnb or hotel costs as much as possible. With S’More, our 15’ Geo Pro trailer loaded, we stayed at a hotel in Butte, Montana the first night. Then we had overnight campsites in Sheridan and Douglas, Wyoming before arriving at KOA campground near Fort Collins, Colorado. From this location of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, we explored Fort Collins, Loveland, and surrounding areas. On-line we also kept tabs on Denver, Aurora, and Littleton rental listings. The traffic was intense and rental prices outlandish. In our back-pocket of planning, we kept Grand Junction, Colorado tucked away as a back-up. “Because, you just never know!”
On April 1, from Fort Collins, we shifted gears and drove 90 miles to our next stay at Chatfield State Park near Littleton. We have enjoyed several stays at this state park as full-time RVers. Thankfully we were able to reserve only two months out for a 13 day stay. With spring break vacationers, this state park is quite popular.
Yet despite calling and following up on oodles of listings in the Denver and Metro Area with no success, we placed our gaze and research efforts westward 250 miles to Grand Junction. Already, we had a list of potential rental properties. Having anticipated going to Grand Junction, we opted to reserve at the Grand Junction KOA while we were in Fort Collins. It’s a good thing as there were no empty sites when we arrived!
On April 15, we left the Denver area for Grand Junction where we had a 7-day stay at the KOA campground. The weather forecast called for more snow in the mountains, so we were prepared and the Highlander did a great job of towing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel and over Vail Pass. Shifting into the manual setting certainly helps the transmission!
In Grand Junction, knowing that even their rental market was short on supply, we were up at the crack of dawn and reviewing listings on Zillow, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. We drove around the community and past various listings. Each time we’d inquire about availability, we’d hear that the listing was just rented. Finally, we completed an application on Zillow and focused all efforts there.
Before bed we marked our “favorites” on Zillow. At 6:30am the next day, there was a response on a townhouse listing. Within 30 minutes, we had traded messages with the owners and had an appointment for a showing a few hours later. This was just what we were seeking with ample space for our household, an attached one-car garage, central air conditioning, no yard maintenance, and a very nice location.
On April 22, a week after arriving in Grand Junction, we had a lease signed, renter’s insurance secured through a Grand Junction State Farm agent, utilities transferred to our names, RV storage reserved, and a U-Haul truck reserved back in Washington. We emptied S’More the Trailer of bedding, clothing, food, etc. and off we left towards our Pullman home.
Without the trailer in tow, it only took us two days of travel to get back home. We stayed the first night in Park City, Utah. Admittedly, a big king bed felt heavenly after our bunk-size beds in the trailer. Park City brought back wonderful memories of past vacations or stays. After another long day of driving, the second night found us with some slim pickings along I-84 in Oregon. We stayed at the Oregon Trail Motel in Baker City, Oregon. It was in very stark contrast to the Marriott in Park City. Although we had a nice walk around Baker City and viewing their public art.
On April 24, we crossed back into Washington over the Snake River. Before we knew it, we were back in Pullman. What relief! We were SO ready to hug our Pullman family and catch up with them again.
The next morning, we were ready to hit the pavement running with only three weeks until our move. A spiral bound notebook had oodles of notes and lists that we jotted down over the five weeks of our trip. Major checklist items: reserve a two-person crew to unload our household from the U-Haul in Grand Junction; make an appointment for the car to be serviced soon after moving to Grand Junction; resume packing; and, deep clean the townhouse before vacating the home.
Squeezing our last meals, morning coffee and conversation times, and grandbaby cuddles with our family were the essentials those last days. It was a heart-tug to leave our son, daughter-in-love, and grandbaby. We were all part of a “Buddy Bubble” for the better part of two years during the COVID pandemic. Our hearts will hold tight to those lasting memories!
On May 13, Steve received a call that the 20 foot U-Haul truck that we wanted was not available. He had carefully planned the placement of boxes and furniture. This threw a bit of a wrench into that plan, as we ended up with a 26 foot truck with too much room. Both Pullman and Moscow are university towns, so we and many students were grappling for U-Hauls at the same time.
On May 14, a lovely couple, Beth and Eric, who we met through our Pullman family, invited us over for a delicious breakfast complete with his home baked bagels. It was so nice to actually sit at a table with them. During COVID restrictions, all of our other contacts had been in their front yard when picking up our order of baked goods from their pop-up cottage bakery or over coffee and outdoor seating at a local coffee shop. They were very gracious.
May 16 was U-Haul pick up day in Moscow, Idaho (10 miles from home). As soon as the truck was in our driveway practically using a shoehorn, Steve began loading boxes. In the afternoon, our son came and worked with Steve into the evening to finish loading and securing boxes, furniture, bicycles, etc. As our bed was loaded onto the truck, we opted to stay in a hotel. It was divine after a day of hard work!
May 17 was a big day. We awoke early in order to return to the house, vacuum the carpet, tie up loose ends, and load the car with the last of items. Our final stop before driving away from our community of Pullman was for extra hugs and “see you laters” with our family. Our eyes “leaked” as Steve drove the U-Haul truck and Diane followed with our Toyota Highlander filled to the gills as Pullman receded in our vehicle mirrors.
We traveled U.S. 95 south along the beautiful Palouse Hills terrain in southeastern Washington and southwestern Idaho. This was mostly a two-lane highway through a picturesque landscape that we’ve enjoyed the past ten years. The Nez Perce Reservation lends itself to meaningful native history and stunning beauty. The first night we stayed in Ontario, Oregon at a hotel needing to rest our weary bodies and emotions.
May 18 was a very long day of driving on busy I-84 across Idaho and northern Utah to Heber City, Utah. In all of our many miles of driving around the country, I-84 can be really busy and fast. We’ve learned our lessons from prior travels with our Nash trailer to avoid the bulk of Salt Lake City’s I-15 traffic. While we weren’t towing this time, Steve found the U-Haul to be a very rough ride and fully loaded, not something to take through Salt Lake City.
On May 19 we were up at the crack of dawn and on our way towards Grand Junction. The route we took was U.S. 40, a route with which we’re familiar. It brought back memories of former full-time RVing stays in Vernal, Utah and a 2014 visit to Dinosaur National Monument. Interestingly, we missed a turn and ended up on a Colorado 139. Yet, this afforded us a new drive on part of the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway. While beautiful, it sure posed some challenges for the U-Haul truck on the climb over Douglas Pass. The Ford 450 engine of the truck labored heavily!
Once over the pass, it was a stunning downhill stretch through the Book Cliffs and across the wide open northern reaches of Grand Valley to Loma, Colorado. We stopped at the Colorado Visitor Center in Fruita in order to call our landlords and arrange to meet them to obtain the keys to the townhouse in Grand Junction. Devoting a couple of hours to unloading what we could, we settled onto our tent camping air mattresses and slept quite comfy on the master bedroom floor.
On May 20 and just like clockwork, the two-person unloading crew arrived at 8:00am. Within 90 minutes the truck was unloaded, furniture in place, and boxes placed in their assigned rooms! We vouched to ourselves and our family that for future moves, a crew would load AND unload!
Whew! This was quite the post to write!
Stay tuned for “Installment Two of Bringing Life at the Speed of Sanity Up to Speed!”
Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity,
Diane & Steve